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Mongolia: Steppes, Deserts & Nomads - Nadaam Festival

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Our Price From 6,839 Per Person
Exclusive Savings 144 Per Person
 Trip Length
15 Days
 Trip Starts
Ulaanbaatar
 Trip Finishes
Ulaanbaatar
15 Day Mongolia: Steppes, Deserts & Nomads - Nadaam Festival Itinerary (Exodus)
Countries Explored: Mongolia
Trip Operator:
Budget
Affordable
Max. Group Size
16
Pace
Easy / Leisurely
Trip Style
Culture
Trip Code
ACMB

Overview

Book online and enjoy exclusive savings on Exodus 15 Day Mongolia: Steppes, Deserts & Nomads - Nadaam Festival. Rolling steppe makes way to stark desert; small nomadic ger camp pepper this vast land where camels and goats are herded on horseback, fermented mare’s milk is the tipple of choice, sand dunes are known to ‘sing’ and the first intact dinosaur eggs were found. Genghis Khan went forth from here on horseback to conquer the biggest land empire in history and, to this day, Buddhist and Animist traditions mix.

In July, all over the country, people come together to compete in wrestling,...read more archery, horse racing and ankle bone flicking during the Naadam Festival but traditions can be witnessed throughout the year. We travel through steppe, mountain and the Gobi desert exploring the nature and culture of this fascinating, yet little known, country.

Itinerary

Start in Ulaan Baatar. Those not travelling with the group from London will join us at the hotel. There are no activities planned for today to allow for different arrival times and to rest after the flight. However, for anyone who arrives into Ulaan Baatar early, why not explore some of the city's sites including UB's main square: Sukhbaatar Square, the National Museum and the landmark State Department Store. Stay: Bayangol Hotel or similar.

As we head out of Ulaan Baatar city, we visit the giant Genghis Khan statue at Tsonjin Bolog. Standing 40m tall, the statue depicts the Mongolian ruler astride his horse and sits atop the visitor's centre (itself 10m tall). It is possible to climb up onto the horse's head to get a closer look at Genghis Khan's face.

We then continue on to Terelj National Park. Terelj National Park is a large protected area of green mountain meadows filled with edelweiss and other wildflowers. The contrast to the Gobi Desert is striking and it feels like being in a different country. We visit the Tibetan-style Aryabala temple, a meditation centre located on a mountainside with sweeping views over the national park. As we follow the walk up to the temple there are inspirational sayings on placards every few steps. The climb to the temple is not difficult but does involve many steps and can be tiring. Tonight we have our first night sleeping in a ger. Ger Camp (B/L/D).

We then drive towards Kharkhorin, making a detour to the Khustain Nuruu National Park, 2 hours west of Ulaan Baatar. Khustain Nuruu is famous for the re-introduction of Mongolia's wild horse. The Takhi Horse (also known as the Przewalski's horse) was once native to Mongolia and almost became extinct earlier in the 20th century.

Through the efforts of several Mongolian and international organizations, these magnificent wild horses now roam in the steppes of the national park once again. We will visit the Project Information Centre and take a guided hike to see the wild horses. Ger Camp (B/L/D).

Today we continue on our drive to the 13th century capital of the Mongol Empire - Karakorum - making a brief stop to see the dunes of the Little Gobi along the way. . Karakorum was established by Ogedei Khan and remained the Mongols power base until Khublai Khan established Beijing as the capital. Erdene Zuu (Hundred Treasures) monastery was the largest Monastery in Mongolia, built in 1586 under the direction of Abtai Khan on the ruins of the ancient capital.

Much of the monastery was destroyed during Stalin's purges of the 1930's, but an impressive wall with 108 stupas and a number of temples still remain. After lunch, we visit the monastery, the modern Karakorum Museum and the surrounding areaGer Camp (B/L/D).

We continue along the paved road to Arvaikheer, the capital of Ovorkhangai Aimag on the northern edge of the Gobi Desert. On the way we will visit the Shankh Monastery, once the home of the great Mongolian theologist Zanabazar. We should arrive at Arvaikheer during the middle of the afternoon and check in to our hotel. In the afternoon there will be time to visit the local museum, which contains nature collections, stone figures and Turkic scripts and possibly go to a local market. Stay: Arvaikheer Palace Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel (B/L/D).

Today is a long day as we head properly off the tourist route into some of the wilder parts of the Gobi Desert. After an early breakfast we start our journey and rapidly leave the tarmac behind. The landscape changes as we head deeper into the Gobi and the majestic Ikh Bogd Mountain should be visible in the distance, the highest mountain in the Gobi Altai Mountain Range.

Eventually, after about 9 hours travelling (with stops) we will arrive at our Ger Camp in the wilderness. This is the longest day's driving but is also a definite highlight of the trip as we pass through some of Mongolia's most spectacular scenery. Ger Camp (B/L/D).

After going over a desert pass and visiting the quartz rich ‘White Cave' our journey continues through classic Gobi desert scenery of flat stony plains mixed with small rocky outcrops and patches of sand across the Khatan Suudal Steppe. We stop for a picnic lunch on the way, with views of Arts Bogd mountain to the north. We head off to the Kongoriin Els sand dunes and arrive there in the late afternoon. Ger Camp (B/L/D).

We have a full day to explore the sand dunes and surrounding area. The Khongoriin Els stretch for 200km and are as high as 300m in places. They are known as the 'Singing Dunes' because of the beautiful sound that resonates through the dunes on a windy day. The South Gobi has 100,000 camels, typically used by herders for transportation of their gers. We will have the opportunity today to visit a camel breeding family and get a glimpse of the way of life of the nomadic herders of these parts. Ger Camp (B/L/D).

This morning we will drive through the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. Gobi Gurvansaikhan means 'Three Beauties of the Gobi' and this range marks the eastern end of the Gobi Altai mountain range. The park's landscape is extremely varied, with rocky and sandy desert plains, precipitous cliffs and ravines, salt pans and oases.

We visit a spectacular natural sight of this region - Yolyn Am. Yolyn Am means Vulture's Mouth and is a canyon so deep and narrow that even in the height of summer winter ice can remain on the valley floor. This region is also renowned for the diversity of its wildlife and many endangered species can be found here, including Khulan, Ibex, Argali and elusive Snow leopards. We visit a local museum and explore the canyon before transferring to a nearby ger camp for dinner and overnight. Ger Camp (B/L/D).

Today we have time to relax in our luxury ger camp. Either in the morning or afternoon we take a short drive to Bayanzag (70 km). Known as the Flaming cliffs, the red/ochre colour can be striking and we have the opportunity for a short hike amongst colourful sands of red, yellow and orange. Bayanzag is a world-renowned dinosaur fossil exploration site, discovered in the 1920s by Mongolian and American palaeontologists. We are free to explore the region and may even be lucky enough to spot dinosaur fossils. We later return to our ger camp. Ger Camp (B/L/D).

We leave the Gobi Desert behind and fly back to Ulaan Baatar. Depending on what time our flight is will determine what time we get back to Ulaan Baatar. Stay: Bayangol Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel (B/L/D).

The Naadam Festival celebrates the ‘three games of men' (or Erin Gurvan Naadam) which are wrestling, horse racing and archery. More recently a fourth game, knuckle-bone flicking was added to the competitions. The festival is celebrated throughout the country but the biggest festival is in Ulaan Baatar. Over the next two days, we attend the grand opening ceremony before we watch Mongolians compete in all four sports.

We also get to mingle with hordes of Mongolian spectators as the grounds around the stadium (where wrestling, archery and bone-flicking take place) and the horse races are filled with stands selling food, games, flags and various other things. The atmosphere is a big part of the experience and many Mongolians dress in their best traditional clothes for the occasion. In 2010 the festival was entered into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list and is a great celebration of the Central Asian nation's culture.

Departure starting Ulaan Baatar on 29 June 2023 Those on the departure starting in Ulaan Baatar on 29 June 2023, will visit the Gandan Monastery, attend the horse racing in Khui Doloon Khudag and witness cultural events in Sukbaatar Square on day 12 (10 July 2023), and will then attend Naadam Festival on days 13 and 14 of the itinerary (11 and 12 July 2023). Stay: Bayangol Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel (B/L/D).

We visit the Gandan Monastery, the largest functioning lamasery in Mongolia and the seat of Buddhist studies in the country. Here we may see monks praying and the 20m gold and bronze statue of Migjid Janraisig. Stay: The remainder of the day is free for some last minute shopping or sightseeing Bayangol Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel (B/L/D).

End Ulaan Baatar (B).

Trip Inclusions

  • The spectacularly varied Mongolian landscape - vast rolling steppe, mountains and deserts
  • Sleep in traditional style ger camps (Mongolian tents)
  • Karakorum, the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire
  • The rolling sand dunes and landscape of the Gobi desert
  • One of the last remaining nomadic cultures in the world
  • Wrestling, archery, horse-riding and bone-flicking at the Nadaam Festival

  • 6 nights hotel, all en suite, 8 nights ger camps
  • Travel by 4WD vehicle, bus and one internal flight
  • Some long drives through very remote country
  • Also Eagle Festival and non-festival departures
  • All breakfasts, lunch and dinners
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Arrival & departure transfers

  • Itinerary and inclusions are subject to change
  • Price is for land, cruise and internal flights as specified. Flights not specified are not included
About Exodus Travels
About Exodus Travels

From classic small group tours & family adventures, to walking holidays, cycling trips and self-guided tours. Read more

Exodus Trip Leaders
Exodus Trip Leaders

Exodus chooses their Leaders carefully. Professional, dedicated and are passionate about sharing their home countries. Read more

Accommodation with Personality
Accommodation with Personality

Wherever possible, Exodus chooses properties that are locally owned and that reflect the area you are visiting. Read more

Availability

Thursday 29 Jun 2023
Thursday 13 Jul 2023
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From: $6,979 $6,839
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Sunday 30 Jun 2024
Sunday 14 Jul 2024
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From: $7,179 $7,035
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Note
Tour & cruises prices are per person. Prices shown have savings applied, are subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Prices and trip information are correct at the time at this point in time, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking and are subject to change by Exodus.

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